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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UGA: Leads Development of Universal Flu Vaccine

The University of Georgia will direct a new National institutes of Health (NIH) Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers (CIVICs) and collaborate with teams from 14 other universities and research institutes to develop a universal flu vaccine.

Dr. Ted M. Ross, director of UGA’s Center for Vaccines and Immunology, will lead a team of UGA researchers, including three epidemiology faculty members from University of Georgia College of Public Health.

Dr. Justin Bahl, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, is team lead for the modeling and data analysis group.

The project will include specific attention to vaccine research for high-risk populations.

“The main goal of our project is to identify vaccines that are broadly protective, meaning that they will protect people against most of the versions of the influenza virus that infect humans,” said Dr. Ross. “But we are particularly interested in developing a vaccine that protects the most vulnerable people in our population, including children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems.”

Dr. Ross and his collaborators will use a computational algorithm to analyze all of the genetic versions of a particular flu type and bundle the results into a single molecule — like taking every novel in a library and combining them into one giant book.

The researchers can then use these large molecules to create vaccines that recognize most or all the different iterations of the influenza virus, meaning that one dose could protect against many strains over several years.

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